A/N: Oh my gosh guys! Tomorrow's the day! Woo! At long last! Ok, anyway… on with the story!
The character Bayard belongs to Suthern-bell85, so all credit for the lovable skittish horse goes to her!
1 day left!
D'Artagnan looked warily up at the darkening sky. The low, sinister clouds suggested that a storm was imminent. His borrowed horse, Bayard, was acting more skittish than usual, as he sensed the approaching storm's tension in the air. As a particularly strong gust of wind caused the horse to jerk nervously at his reigns, D'Artagnan leaned down and patted the beast's soft neck as he whispered in his ear.
"It's alright, Bayard. We'll be home soon enough." D'Artagnan once again looked up at the storm clouds overhead. He hopped the worst of it would wait until he got back to Paris. He had been sent out on an overnight solo mission to deliver a dispatch in south eastern France, the long trek being the reason why he was now riding Bayard rather than Buttercup. The mission had gone well and now the young musketeer was happy to be getting home to his three friends and a warm bed.
D'Artagnan rode homeward on a road that wound it's way through the forest. The clouds overhead were now a dark blue color and the wind was blowing in rough gusts, the force of them making D'Artagnan grip his reigns hard in an effort to stay atop his horse. A slight rain had begun to fall, the clouds finally seeming to let loose their massive load. D'Artagnan kicked Bayard into a slight canter, wanting to get home before he was completely soaked.
He was about half an hour's ride away from Paris when a streak of lightening lit up the sky, followed by a deafening boom of thunder. Bayard started at the lightening, but the thunder sent the poor horse into a tizzy. The creature took off into the forest, the boy on his back barely being able to hold on.
After overcoming the initial shock of his horse suddenly sprinting, D'Artagnan attempted to pull back on the reigns, but Bayard was too focused on his running to recognize his rider's commands.
Another clap of thunder sounded and this time, Bayard reared back on his hind legs with a shrill whinny, causing D'Artagnan to tumble off the beast's back and onto the wet forest floor.
D'Artagnan landed with an "Oof!" and looked up to see Bayard racing away, further into the forest.
"Great." mumbled the musketeer as he picked himself up off the ground. "My horse had abandoned me. Now I'll have to walk home and track the bloody thing down." D'Artagnan was just about to start his long trek back home when a sudden realization made him stop short. He had no idea where he was. The sun was completely obstructed by the clouds, so it's direction could give no indication. Also, the whipping winds seemed to be blowing in on all sides, providing no help whatsoever.
D'Artagnan huffed and pulled his cloak tighter around him, although the soaked material did little to provide any warmth. After picking a direction that he hoped was north, the young man started his journey, mumbling the whole way about how that blasted horse had better be ok when he found it
"Is D'Artagnan still not back?" questioned Athos as he hung up his cloak and hat, just having returned from patrol duty. Aramis shook his head.
"No, but I wouldn't worry. With the weather how it is, he is probably going at a slower pace for the horse's sake." Aramis looked over to the clock on the wall. "He's barely late, too."
"Yes, alright." Athos said with a sigh as he sat down at the table. He grabbed the bottle of wine that Planchet had left out for them and poured himself a glass. Unless the boy got home soon, this was going to be a long night.
The minutes slowly ticked into hours and there was still no sign of D'Artagnan. Athos had begun to pace, only casting Porthos a glare when he said that the man was going to ware a hole right into the floor. After looking out he window for what must have been the hundredth time and seeing that the rain had began to fall in thicker sheets, Athos made up his mind.
"I'm going out to look for him." he stated as he put back on his hat and cloak. Aramis sighed, but he couldn't protest, he was beginning to get worried a bit himself.
"Alright. We'll wait here incase he comes back. If you're not back in two hours, we'll come out and look too." said the former priest as Porthos nodded in agreement. Athos returned the nod before stepping out the door and quickly saddling his horse. He rode out into the rain, in the direction that he knew the boy should have been returning from, all the while mumbling about how that blasted boy had better be ok when he found him.
About half an hour later, Athos found himself riding through the forest, occasionally calling out D'Artagnan's name, though he doubted that the boy would be able to hear him if he had been standing right in front of him, what with this dammed storm.
Suddenly, there was movement to Athos' right and he felt hope glimmer inside of him as a familiar horse made it's way out of the trees. Athos' stomach dropped, however, when he noticed the horse, Bayard as D'Artagnan had called him, was riderless.
Athos quickly hopped off his horse and grabbed Bayard's reigns, knotting them to his own horse's before climbing back up and continuing his search with his friend's horse in tow. At least he knew that D'Artagnan had to be fairly close by.
After another twenty minutes of fruitless searching, Athos was just about to head back, think that the boy might have taken a different direction when a figure suddenly stumbled out of the bushes.
"Athos!" cried D'Artagnan as he looked up to see his friend, a smile quickly growing on the boy's face. The older man leaped down from his horse and jogged up to his friend, relief flooding through his, although it didn't quite show on the outside.
"Where the hell have you been?" questioned Athos loudly. D'Artagnan looked down at his feet, suddenly feeling like a small boy being scolded by his father.
"Well the storm spooked Bayard and so he threw me off and ran away and well," D'Artagnan gave a nervous laugh. "I kind of got lost."
"I knew that horse was nothing but trouble." mumbled Athos as he took hold of the boy's shoulder and steered him to the horses. With his hand on the boy, Athos came to realize that D'Artagnan was shaking quite badly from the cold. Athos reached up and removed his own cloak before draping it around D'Artagnan's trembling shoulders. The younger man looked up at Athos with a hint of defiance in his eyes.
"Athos, I'm fine. You'll get cold without your cloak." he said as he reached up to give back the cloak.
"You need it more than I do, boy. Besides, I'm not cold." Alright, so maybe that second part was a lie, Athos thought, but the first part wasn't and that was all that mattered right now.
D'Artagnan frowned at Athos for a moment, before dropping the matter and climbing up onto Bayard's back. He patted the horse's neck.
"Glad to see you're ok, boy. I would like it if you didn't do that again any time soon, though." Athos resisted the urge to roll his eyes. What possessed the boy to talk to horses as if he though they would respond, he would never know.
With that, the two men kicked their horses into a run and headed home.
As they arrived in the stables, the musketeers slid off their horses and D'Artagnan walked up to Athos.
"Athos," he said, waiting until he had the man's full attention to continue. "Thank you for finding me." Then, acting on a sudden impulse, he leaned forward and wrapped his arms around Athos' waist in a tight, and somewhat wet, embrace.
Athos was surprised out first from the unexpected hug, but after a moment, returned it, saying, "Anytime, boy."
The two men pulled apart and D'Artagnan cast the older man a shy smile, being slightly embarrassed by his childish affection. Athos only reached out a hand and tussled the boy's unruly hair. The two men gave Porthos and Aramis a quick account of the day's events before heading to bed. Outside, the storm quieted and the rain let up to only a slight pitter patter on the roof, the muffled lullaby lulling the musketeers into a deep sleep.
A/N: thanks for reading! Don't forget to look for the movie tomorrow! :D